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OCHA Weekly Briefing Notes

Update for oPt (11 – 17 February 2004)

INSIDEINSIDE:  Situation in Gaza — Casualties — Incidents involving ambulances — Curfew — House demolition — Land levelling/confiscation — Checkpoints/roadblocks/Separation Wall/restrictions on movement — Access to Schools — Labour movement to Israel — Other incidents — Appendix — Closure status January 2004

1. Situation in Gaza

During the last week, 16 Palestinians have been killed during IDF military operations in Gaza. For the second time this year, Gaza city was exposed to a major IDF incursion that left 12 dead and a further 44 injured when at least 15 tanks and four bulldozers entered the eastern neighbourhood of Al Shuja’ia. Simultaneously, another 20 IDF tanks and bulldozers supported by two helicopters advanced at least one kilometre from the border line into Block J of Rafah Camp). During this incursion, three people were killed and 17 injured. IDF bulldozers completely destroyed 6 houses and bulldozed the main (East-West) Rafah road, while conducting house to house searches in Block J and Zuruf area.

2. Casualties

Palestinians: 17 deaths (approximately), 95 injured (approximately)
Israelis: 0 deaths, 1 injured

3. Incidents involving ambulances and medical teams

Denial of access: 2 incidents (one among the delayed)

Delay (35-90 min.): 6 incidents

Harassment/Abuse of medical crew: 1 incident

Shooting/Damage to ambulance: 2 incidents

4. Curfews

Curfews were reported in the following locations: Al Masara, Khallet al – Haddad, Umm Salamuna, Jura ash – Sham’a and Marah Muala and Wad An-Nis Jourat (one day).

5. House demolitions/Demolition Orders

The two Bedouin communities in Arab Abu Farda and Ramadeen in Qalqilya district have received demolition orders for 6 dwellings. These six houses are included in a total of 11 dwellings that on 28 December last year received orders to halt further construction. The vast majority of the families in these two communities live in caravans and tents. The residents have been granted the option to appeal their cases to the high court.
Villagers in Silwad in Ramallah District reported that the IDF has declared the six houses demolished on 1st February as “closed military areas” and has prohibited the families from rebuilding or repairing the destroyed houses and from removing any building materials from the sites.

6. Land levelling/confiscation

Construction in the settlement of Betar Illit, Bethlehem district, continues close to the access road to the village of Wadi Fukin. Another hill to the south of the settlement of Betar Illit, between the Palestinian villages of Wadi Fukin and Nahalin has been “shaved”, ready for construction.
Levelling of land near Isla in Qalqilya district has been ongoing for the past three months now.
According to the Palestinian DCL and the head of Beit Sira village council (Ramallah district), the Israeli authorities have started marking land in Beit Sira between the village and Makkabim settlement (part of the Modi’in settlement bloc). Land has already been cleared for a base for the construction machinery.
The IDF confiscated 45 Dunum, (11.25 acres), of land in Eizariyah (Jerusalem district) last week in order to construct access roads for the houses that will be cut off by the wall in Abu Dees/Ras al Amoud junction.
IDF delivered confiscation orders for land to use as a road to an IDF base west of the village of Till,

Nablus district
Residents of Mutillah, Jenin district, received a confiscation order of 141, 6 dunums located west of the village of Bardala, district of Tubas. Residents believe the order is connected to the construction of the Barrier.
IDF confiscated five dunums of land near Dahiyat Sabah al Khayr, north of Jenin, 15. February

7. Checkpoints/roadblocks/Separation Barrier/Restrictions on movement

Tulkarm/Qalqiliya governorates:

The past week continued to see a relaxation in the movement with no new major restrictions (roadblocks, earth mounds, and closures) imposed on the local population in both Tulkarm and Qalqiliya districts apart from the already existing. All checkpoints have been operational and in general only few military operations took place.
According to the DCO office in Tulkarem, the Separation Barrier through Nazlat Isa will be completed on 18 February. The LO officer has informed OCHA that “most likely” a checkpoint will be established at the barrier entrance in Nazlat Isa and that the completion will be followed by a complete opening of the two barrier gates at Baqa Ash Sharqiya and Qaffin. Construction of the tunnel between Habla and Qalqilya town is ongoing.  No other concrete steps have been taken on the ground to continue or alter the route of the barrier in conjunction with the third phase.
On 12 February, the IDF closed down temporarily the DCL office in Tulkarem for an approximate period of 45 days. Meanwhile, during the reconstruction, the local population in Tulkarem has been instructed to use the DCL office in Qalqilya near Quedumin. According to the LO, the DCL will expand with a new section for expediting first of all the individual requests for green permits. A new electronic system will be established to register people’s identity (through finger prints and eye/nose recognition), which eventually will replace the magnetic card system.
Apart from the barrier gates listed below in the table, all other barrier gates have been reported closed. The openings hours of the agricultural gates in particular are not strictly been adhered to. Field monitoring by OCHA staff and reports from local villagers indicate that in general delays to farmers and school children have occurred

Nablus/Jenin/Tubas governorates:

The closure on Nablus was still intact; yet students, doctors etc. were given access without reported difficulties.
The villages of Salem, Azmout and Deir al Hatab were again sealed off as a reinforced earth mound was erected at the entrance to these villages. IDF opened fire at Palestinians attempting to bypass the structure 15 February. In a similar incident fire was opened at Palestinians attempting to bypass the check point at Beit Furik. No injuries were reported.
The construction of three observation towers commenced around the village of Till, west of Nablus.
Serious delays, rejections and difficulties transporting goods through the Um al Fahm gate leading to the Barta’a ash-Sharqiyah enclave in Jenin were reported.

Ramallah/al-Bireh/Beituniya governorates:

The An Nabi Saleh gate was closed on 16 February and during the morning of 17 February. Flying checkpoints were in operation on the dirt road leading to Aboud. A temporary checkpoint was also set up on the Atara Bridge.

Jerusalem/Jericho governorates:

Construction of the Separation Barrier is continuing in different sections in Khallet a Nu’man and northwards near Har Hommah settlement, Ash Sheikh Sa’ad, Sour Baher, Sawahriya ash Sharqiya and Abu Dis.
The construction of the Barrier in Eizariya east to Mount of Olives near to Beit Fagi monastery is moving rapidly in terms of installing an 8 meter concrete wall to close the remaining section of the passage from Eizariyah to Mount of Olives.
The construction of the Barrier has also started opposite to Zayem Checkpoint with land levelling east of the valley towards Ma’ale Adoumim settlement.
Three to four flying checkpoints have been established on a daily basis in the morning hours near the neighbourhoods of Mount Of Olives and Ras al Amood in order to check Palestinians if they have Jerusalem ID cards.

Bethlehem/Hebron governorates:

10 February: The entrance of An-Nu’man village in Bethlehem district was closed by the Border Police.  The road, the only access to it, was re-opened in the evening through liaison between OCHA Hebron FCU and the special police at the site.
Villagers in Bethlehem district are reporting an increasing number of field visits by senior IDF officers in areas close to the future path of the separation barrier. Over the reporting period, site visits have been observed in Wadi Fukin, Walaja and Wadi Rahhal (east of the Efrata settlement).

Gaza crossings/checkpoints

The enclosed areas:

As-Seafa: Movement remains restricted by the IDF with the entry-exit gate opening twice daily for As-Seafa ID holders from 06:30 to 08:30 and 14.00 to 16.00. Motor vehicles are not allowed to enter since November 2000, with the exception of international agencies that have undertaken prior coordination with the IDF. Since 28 January 2004, IDF started to allow women to get in and out of Al Seafa but movement is subject to full body search and with 24 hours prior coordination.
Al-Mawassi: IDF imposed restrictions remain, with the entry-exit gate at Tuffah checkpoint opening twice daily for Al Mawassi ID holders from 07.00 to 09.00 and 14.30 to 17.00. No passage is possible for male Al Mawassi ID holders aged 15-23 without prior coordination. Youths aged below 15 must be accompanied by a guardian.  Motor vehicles are not allowed to enter, with the exception of international agencies that have undertaken prior coordination with the IDF.
On 16 February, Tel as-Sultan checkpoint was closed.

8. Access to schools

Tulkarm/Baqa Ash Sharqiya gate:

11 February, five teachers from Tulkarem were denied access.
12 February, another three teachers from Tulkarem were denied access.
14/15 February, one teacher from Tulkarem was denied access both days.

Hebron:

The IDF apprehended 27 teachers teaching in Az Zuwedin area schools for about three hours on the bypass road No. 317 while they were coming back to their homes.

Jenin:

11 Teachers from Ya’bad working inside the Barta’a ash-Sharqiya enclave were denied access through the Um al Rihan gate 14-15 February. Three of these have so far not been given access.

9. Labour movement to Israel

West Bank:

Tulkarem/Qalqilya: All work permits to Israel proper are still under suspension as a consequence of the incidence that took place in Tel Aviv on 25 December. However, a further total of 235 trader permits over the past week have been issued for Qalqilya and another 329 for Tulkarem. Since these trader permits only are valid for one month, most of the new permits are thus renewals of permits that have expired.

Gaza:

Entry is still only granted to workers over 35 years of age, a seven-year increase from the previous minimum age of 28. Passage through Erez is very problematic on account of the suicide bombing that took place on January 14. IDF is still forcing workers to show their legs and raise their shirts before allowing passage through the checkpoint.  Regular injuries are still being reported on account of the congestion.

10,536 permits to enter Israel were issued to Palestinian agricultural and construction workers and 1,323 traders.

10. Other incidents

Tulkarm/Qalqiliya governorates

16 February: One house was searched by the IDF in the southern part of Tulkarem city, which led to the arrest of two persons.

Nablus/Jenin/Tubas governorates

12 February: Palestinians fired at an Israeli vehicle, no injuries were reported.
13 February: IDF opened fire during a search campaign in Nablus, three Palestinians were injured.
13 February: Palestinians stoned IDF troops, who responded with tear gas, plastic covered metal bullets and live rounds. No injuries were reported.
13 February: IDF opened fire inside the village of Qabatiya, Jenin, killing a Palestinian and injuring another.
17 February: IDF entered Nablus informing the Palestinian Police that Palestinian policeman from this date no longer were allowed to carry arms. If not complying with the new arrangement, they risked being shot. The offices of the Palestinian Special Police located at the old Governorate building, was later searched. This unit was given the same message.

Ramallah/Al-Bireh/Beituniya governorates:

10 February: Israeli military patrols carried out searches in Beituniya and arrested one 29-year-old man, originally from Jenin.
10 February: Three young men were also arrested during a military operation in Kharbatha Bani Harith (one is an employee at Alayyam newspaper). The village council reported that a tank and around ten jeeps were used in the operation.
11 February: The IDF entered the centre of Ramallah and arrested an employee at the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications.
11 February: At around 8:00hrs, the IDF entered Qarawat Bani Zeid, entered a house and shot a wanted man.

Hebron/Bethlehem governorates:

The number of valid permits for buses of the Hebron national bus company is 34, of which 26 for public transport between Hebron and Bethlehem and 8 for movement between Hebron and Jericho. On 14 until 16 of February the IDF at the Beit Jala check point prevented the buses which travel to Jericho to pass through the check point to carry passengers from Hebron District.
11 February: Five workers from Kharas village, Hebron district, were injured in Har Homa settlement (Abu Ghanim) settlement in Bethlehem district after reportedly being beaten by Border Police forces.
11 February: The IDF and settlers searched the houses of Khirbet Jinba in Hebron district and forced people to stand in the rain for long hours chasing shepherds and preventing them to graze sheep. The IDF considers this a closed military area.
11 February: Israeli contractors put a fence around 30 dunums (7.5 acres) of land east the settlement of Kharsina in Hebron district.
11 February: Settlers from Karme’l settlement planted trees in a land in Somara north east of Yatta, Hebron district.
12 February: Two Palestinians were injured in Beit Mersim, Hebron district, when they tried to cross the Green Line. A search campaign took place after the incident.
12 February: Search and arrest campaigns took place in Aida camp, Beit Sahour and Bethlehem city. Nine people were arrested.
13 February: A search and arrest campaign took place in Al-Aroub camp and Bani Na’im village in Hebron district. Eight Palestinians were arrested.
13 February: One student from Deheisheh camp studying in Abu Dis University was arrested at Wadi An-Nar (“Container”) check point.
13 February: Settlers from Kiryat Arba attacked the houses of the residents in Wadi An-Nasara with stones, chasing women and children to prevent them from crossing the “prayer’s road”.
13 February: Settlers from Susya settlement ploughed 3 dunums of land near an outpost east of Yatta, Hebron district.
13 February: Settlers from Bnei Khever settlement near Bani Na’im ploughed and destroyed plants and trees on an area of 3 dunums belonging to a Palestinian.
16 February: The IDF entered the Orthodox Housing Project, in Beit Sahour (Bethlehem) area and conducted a search campaign after a shooting of a Border Police patrol took place near the Separation Barrier.
16 February: The IDF entered Bethlehem from the north entrance and reached the area of Bab Azqaq, searched cars and then conducted a search campaign in Aida camp.

Gaza

11 February: 12 Palestinians were killed and 44 injured during an IDF military operation in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Al Shika’ia.
12 February: Three Palestinians killed and 17 injured during a large scale incursion in Rafah.
16 February: The IDF tanks and two bulldozers moved from the border fence and entered Zurub area of Rafah. One Palestinian was killed during the incursion.
16 February: One Palestinian died and 10 were injured congested conditions at Eretz crossing.
Five mortars, 12 homes made rockets and two anti tank missiles have been fired towards the Israeli settlements of Neve Dekalim, Dugit, Netzarim and Gadid in this period. No injuries have been reported.

(Source: OCHA field units, UNRWA, UNSCO, PRCS, MoH, UHHC, Governors’ office, Israeli MoFA & IDF web sites, Al Mizan, PCHR)

END


Appendix: Checkpoints Status 11 – 17 February 2004

Checkpoints

Commercial checkpoints:

Road Gates

Separation Barrier Gates

Closure Status – January 2004


Document Type: Note
Document Sources: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Subject: Incidents, Situation in the OPT including Jerusalem
Publication Date: 17/02/2004